Swollen legs or ankles can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'generally fatal'. Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.
Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms. In order to diagnose swollen legs or ankles, we could:
|Excess Salt Consumption||17%||Unlikely|
|Short Bowel Syndrome||4%||Ruled out|
|Liver Congestion||2%||Ruled out|
|Protein Deficiency||2%||Ruled out|
|Atrophic Gastritis||1%||Ruled out|
Do you have edema of the ankles or lower legs? To rate its severity, press firmly with a finger for 5 seconds and note the approximate depth of the indentation or length of time to return to normal.
Possible responses:→ No / don't know
→ Slight: 5mm (1/4 inch) depth, immediate return
→ Minor: 8-10mm (1/2 inch) depth, 10-15 seconds
→ Moderate: 11-20mm (3/4 inch) depth, 15-30 seconds
→ Severe: Over 20mm (1 inch) depth, over 30 seconds
When the liver loses its ability to make the protein albumin, water accumulates in the legs and abdomen.
Edema of the ankles is a common manifestation of failure of the right ventricle related to both venous congestion and salt and water retention. Those experiencing constant or worsening swelling of the feet or legs should see a doctor for a heart evaluation.
Edema (Water Retention) also suggests the following possibilities:
Excessive alcohol intake can cause edema.
Semi-starvation can cause edema. People with eating disorders may interpret the puffiness of edema or any changes on the scale as weight gain or getting "fat" and may panic and purge or take laxatives even more.
Angioedema or swelling of the eyelids, lips, hands or feet are listed as possible reactions to aspartame.
Edema may be due to low levels of circulating proteins from poor protein digestion.
Salt can increase the amount of fluid that you retain in your body.
Hormones regulate the amount of interstitial fluid surrounding our body's cells. A hormone imbalance can result in too much interstitial fluid, and thus edema.
Progesterone has also been used in the treatment of idiopathic edema under the premise that some women with idiopathic edema either do not ovulate or have a luteal phase deficiency.
Ovarian function was investigated in 30 women with postural idiopathic edema by measuring plasma estradiol and progesterone levels between the 21st and 23rd days of the menstrual cycle. Plasma progesterone concentrations were found to be lower than 5ng/ml in 53% of the cases and lower than 10ng/ml in 83%. The ovarian dysfunction most frequently observed was inadequate corpus luteum, i.e. progesterone deficiency with normal plasma estradiol levels. In virtually all patients the initial disorder in capillary permeability, as evaluated by Landis' test, was fully corrected by progesterone administered orally. However, clinical improvement was less marked with treatments of short duration (2-3 consecutive cycles). In view of the complex cause of the disease, combined treatments in which progesterone might well play the major role are usually required. [Presse Med 1983 Dec 10;12(45): pp.2859-62 (translated)]
When protein (especially albumin) levels in your blood go too low, the colloidal osmotic pressure will decrease and allow fluid to escape from blood vessels into your tissues, resulting in edema or swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, knees and/or belly.